Do you ever revisit games that you wish that you could get lost in for days and weeks at a time? For most gamers, there are some favorite titles that appeal to you because of more than just physics engines and gameplay mechanics. These worlds hold the player’s interest because of how deep the in-game worlds feel.
A cool looking and engrossing world goes a long way to making players remember a game after they are done playing. Some games’ visual looks even end up informing their genres after the fact. We all have the universes that stick out in our minds.
The worlds that really grab your attention should be celebrated. There are literally too many game universes to count and that means there will be some that will be forgotten by time. But, here are 10 awesome game worlds that you can get totally lost in for a while.
- Just Cause 3
This game had more going for it than just the omnipresent explosions that you cause as Rico Rodriguez. Medici is a beautiful island that seems to have the size and scale of a real world locale. There is a lot of Mediterranean charm on display in Medici. The natural beauty of the island goes on for as far as the eye can see. As with other games in the series, the island also holds a (albeit scientifically impossible) number of different settings and climates. If you ever wanted to get lost in a tropical locale that looks like Monaco, this is a great place to visit.
- GTA V
Grand Theft Auto V’s world is one that is near and dear to my heart. Being from Los Angeles, it was really cool to see such an interesting take on the city in GTA V. Los Santos captures the real world sprawl of L.A. very faithfully and every neighborhood manages to feel different from the next. The character and personality of every section of the city is communicated well. Also, L.A. is a nice change of pace from other sandboxes that are routinely set in New York City.
- World of Warcraft
Azeroth is still a knockout even after a decade. I will always remember the first time stepping into Orgrimmar or the Undercity. There were so many people running around and so many things to do in every pocket of this game. Even the quieter areas burst with charm and personality. There’s a reason so many people still flock to Azeroth today.
- Katamari Damacy
It’s not just the music. The entire look and feel of Katamari Damacy’s first outing pretty much rewires your brain during the first playthrough. Color, shape, and size all come together to form an understanding of how to effectively roll up the most stuff in the quickest way possible. The world doesn’t seem big at first, but by the ending levels, you have effectively seen almost the entire world. This is one of the most unique game universes out there.
Imagination provides the fuel for whatever you want to build in the world of Minecraft. The world is about as malleable as you want it to be. The beauty of the procedurally generated world is strange and exciting. You truly never know what you will run across in the game. Every time I see someone start up a new file, they see something that was never even mentioned before in their last playthrough. Minecraft is easily able to communicate the feel of vastly different areas and that is special.
- Pokemon X and Y
Starting a Pokemon journey is always accompanied by a sense of adventure. Kalos in Pokemon X and Y feels grander than every other entry in the series. This sense of grandness is not due to sheer size. The real culprit for the sense of adventure in Kalos is the setting. France is not a locale that players encounter often in games. Kalos feels wistful and metropolitan in a way that past games in the series has not. Pokemon X and Y bring the series into the future in a big way and that is memorable.
- Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic
This one seems like a no-brainer. It’s a Star Wars game that captures the scope of the film universes. There are new locations introduced alongside favorites like Tatooine. The choices that the player makes even influence which planets are visited during the campaign. This game universe feels like it keeps on ticking even when you are not playing.
- Legend of Zelda Wind Waker
Wind Waker is a strange game for The Legend of Zelda fans because it defied most expectations when it was released in 2002. The cel-shaded look and dreamy quality of the visuals makes it stand out in some of the more realistic depictions of Link’s adventures. The travel system along with the world being remapped onto an ocean map makes the entire game have the feel of an adventure on the high seas. Link also runs into memorable characters that make the entire world sing with energy as you explore.
The atmosphere of Bioshock is hard to replicate. The art-deco influenced architecture in Rapture is just gorgeous. Every time we see more of the sunken city, the player is encouraged to think about what life in this city must have been like for its inhabitants. The thrill of avoiding detection or scary combat against shambling enemies increases the player’s engagement. Gorgeous and atmospheric is the big draw for this title.
- Shadow of the Colossus
You are a boy alone in an almost vacant world with a horse. The world is sprawling and seems indifferent to the character in the same way that Dark Souls does now. The key difference in Shadow of the Colossus is that the giant boss battles that make a game like Dark Souls really sing are the bread and butter of Shadow of the Colossus. In this world, it is just you and your horse against giants. This one is a lonely trek that hauntingly makes you think about why exactly you are doing what you do in the game.
- Final Fantasy X
There are a ton of Final Fantasy games but, for my money, FFX is the most beautiful entry in the series. Sure, there are higher graphic entries later and the charming visuals of the 2D games along with the nostalgic charm of FFVII. FFX is just a delight on screen and the soft visuals give every area some moment where the player just can’t help but take it all in for a couple of minutes. The summons in this game do the best job of communicating their epic nature in the entire series.
What are your favorite video game worlds and why?